Jenny Butter is an Accredited Senior Coach. Life Coaching, Career Coaching, Business coaching, Gallup Strengths Coaching. Clients give consistently excellent client reviews. Confidence, motivation, health and energy building tips; articles on overcoming stress and life dissatisfaction to feel fulfilled and happy.
A recent statistic I read said on average only 6 seconds will be spent looking at your CV by recruiters. Therefore it has to clearly answer these questions – Can you do the job? Will you do the job? Are you a good fit? Here are 5 ways to improve your CV.
Buzz words that match the company and describe you
This is a vital way to communicate to the employer that you are a good fit. Go through the company website and job description and highlight key buzz words such as creative, flexible, best in class, intuitive, analytical, empathetic etc. Then bring them into your CV – but only if it is true. If it isn’t then, arguably, the role and company are not a good fit. If they want someone who is detail-orientated and follows procedures and you are an innovative big picture person, then look elsewhere.
Profile – not what you want, but what you offer
This is an excellent way to communicate who you are, what you bring and how you are better than other candidates. For example…
An Accountant and Finance Director with 10 years’ experience of strategically growing and developing the Finance functions of a Tech startup from two employees, with an annual income of £105k, to 160 employees with an annual income of £10m. Versatile and proactive thrives in fast-changing environments anticipating and planning for future growth. With high emotional intelligence is known to bring calmness and clarity, and naturally builds rapport with board members, staff and external stakeholders. A strong, confident and plain-speaking verbal and written communicator explains financial information in a clear and understandable way. Ethical, integral and value-driven, is passionate about start-ups.
Core competencies and key skills – know the difference
When listing your key skills, go through the job description of the role you are applying for and highlight what they want. Then make sure you add these into your key skills and core competencies section. The difference between a key skill and a core competency is your ability to execute the desired skill. For example, I may have the key skill of coaching as I have been on a course, but to be able to say it is a core competency, I need to prove it. Therefore, throughout my CV I need to give examples of how I do it and what the result is. In addition, as above, use metrics where possible.
Coaching: Senior Accredited Coach, 95% of career coaching clients have obtained a new job within a 3 month period.
When I review CVs this is one of the things that is often missing. Yes, you need to state what you do in your job role but it is vital to demonstrate the value you add. So for example:
RALPH LAUREN | Visual Creative Assistant | Nov 2015-July 2019
Worked in a small team to explore, design and implement store window concepts in all flagship and concession stores across Europe. Ensured communication of the brand’s vision, keeping in-line with current fashion trends and annual budget.
Successfully managed 3 budgets equating to £1.5million
Built strong working relationships with 10 suppliers based across Asia.
Co-created and project managed a creative installation that was featured in both Cosmopolitan and OK magazine in Spring 2018.
Explain career gaps
There are numerous reasons for career gaps and they need to be explained, whether it be sick leave, maternity, gap year or unemployment. During your period away from the workplace, it is highly likely you will have been doing something that demonstrates transferrable skills. For example:
Gap Year: This shows organisation, budget planning and experience of different cultures.
Full-time parent: This shows an ability to multi-task, flexibility and high levels of stamina.
Unemployment: Networking demonstrates an ability to initiate and build relationships; submitting applications on time shows you can make deadlines; doing them correctly shows attention to detail as well as your ability for written communication; persisting in your job search demonstrates focus and discipline.
Remember to ask someone else to proofread your CV before submitting it.
We all know we need one. Most of us want one, but very few of us get work-life balance right. Why? Because we are not proactive. We wait for the day that we will wake up and have perfect ‘zen’, but life doesn’t happen like that.
To develop and maintain a healthy work-life balance you just need to start. Here are five quick ways you can improve your life balance.
Enjoy all life has to offer while you can
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care. The most common regret recorded amongst her patients was ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’
Action: Make a list of the genuine expectations others have of you. Are they fair? Start making your own choices.
Wellness is much more than physical health. It’s the full integration of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. When we feel stressed we are not solid and our soul cries out.
Action: Make a list of one thing you want to change in each area, for example: Physical – your weight. Emotional – end a bad relationship; Mental – time to listen to podcasts; Spiritual – time for reflection or prayer. Choose one and start today.
Become energised at work
When you are tired, bored or stressed you lose confidence in yourself and your abilities. Mistakes are made; you feel irritable and bad mouth others. When you are in this mental state it is impossible to offer peak performance or build good relationships with bosses.
Action: Plan your working day so you sandwich tasks which drain you with those with energise you. If possible, start and end your day with things you enjoy.
Have better relationships
Jaimie Oliver admitted he was more or less a weekend Dad due to work commitments but according to The Guardian article, he and his family are OK with that.
Action: Think about what is most important to you when it comes to improving relationships. Do you want quality or quantity of time or both? Plan it into your diary to make sure it happens.
Back to Bronnie Ware, the fifth regret of the dying is, ‘I wish that I had let myself be happier.’ Bronnie found that many people didn’t realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.
Action: Do you need to acknowledge your fear of change? If needed, book a session with an accredited coach to help you break out of your comfort zones and seek happiness.
Don’t look back and regret. Start improving your work-life balance now.
How do you deal with it? Head down? Constantly moan to whoever will listen? Begrudge anyone who sits next to you and loudly chews? Or do you do it differently?
The daily commute can be draining and expensive. According to the BBC, the average UK commute is 54 minutes with Office for National Statistics figures showing 3.7 million workers travelling for two hours or longer. And it’s not just the time. According to a Total Jobs survey, the average UK employee spends £135,871 over a lifetime.
So how can you save money or handle it better?
Here are five ways to improve your commute to work:
1. Improve health, lose weight and save money
Walk from the mainline station to your place of work rather than catching the tube or opt for the park and ride. Transport and parking are expensive. By looking at different options you may save hundreds of pounds which you can put towards a holiday! If you combine monetary savings with exercise and weight loss goals, you could be onto a winner. An average person walking for 20 minutes over 5 days will burn around 500 calories a week.
Cut back on expensive comfort food. Rather than buying a high-fat latte and a cake, costing money, bring something from home, a bottle of orange juice and a tuna sandwich for example. Over a few months, your leaner body will help you feel more confident in your beach clothes which you can wear on that holiday!
2. Stress reduction
Do a daily review. Feeling out of control is a major contributing factor towards stress. Spend time on your commute going through a checklist to make sure you are on top of things at home and at work and nothing is falling through the gap.
Quiet time, screen break. Rather than surfing the web and reading about other people’s ‘perfect lives’, do something to build you up. Practice mindfulness, pray, use an adult colouring book or read a novel.
3. Ask your employer about telecommuting or flexible working options.
Flexi-working. Many people feel locked into the daily drudge and haven’t explored other possibilities with their employer. Have you asked about condensed working hours or shifting your core hours so you miss rush hour?
Remote working. My husband’s commute from Oxfordshire into London cost £550 a month. When he got a job that allowed him to work from his home office we were able to move out of the commuter belt and purchase a family home; £550 a month is a lot to put towards a mortgage.
4. Fulfill or your dream or gain one.
Write that novel you have always wanted to write
Put Candy Crush to one side and use the time to fulfil that dream. Fiona Mozley wrote her debut novel, ‘Elmet’, on her phone while commuting within London and it was shortlisted in 2017 for a Booker Prize.
Life planning. Don’t have a dream? Spend the time visioning: imagine what you would like your life to be like. When you don’t have a compelling dream you are in danger of letting your life slip away without having done half of what you desire or are capable of.
5. Change jobs or move house. Review your commute objectively. Total Jobs has a commuter calculator where you can find out what it is costing you in both time and money. It’s important you stay well physically, emotionally and economically. If you need to improve your situation, find a new job or improve your work-life balance, why not hire an accredited coach to work with you so you can obtain the job and commute you want and need?
Jenny Butter of Epiphany Life Coaching is a Senior Accredited Coach and works with clients across the globe find new ‘right fit’ jobs and and improve their life balance.
Rocking the charts at the moment is Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
Tell me somethin’, girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?
Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore?
Interesting that the last 3 songs I just heard on the radio all refer to the same malaise, discontentment or fractiousness people are feeling inside. Often it is very doable to change circumstances that are causing discontent. On occasion, though, you just have to deal with life as it is, live with the result of decisions you have made or come to terms with the hand you have been dealt. And yes, sometimes life does suck.
So how do you become or feel more content with life at the moment? Here are five suggestions. Give them a go, what have you got to lose?
Change your mindset
Every morning, before you even get out of bed, think of 3 things you are grateful for. It can be something big, or something small such as finding that car parking space. This will help start your mind off in a positive manner.
Around dinner time, share with friends or family, or on social media, the best thing about the day. Start a social media challenge #gratefulfor and nominate someone else to do it every week.
Get in control of your thought life
Catch yourself when muttering about others or when feeling self-critical. And Stop. Now think of something positive about yourself or someone else.
When the grass looks greener, plan ways you can water your own backyard.
Surrender control of people or circumstances
Name the area or person you are trying to control. Ask yourself truthfully – is it worth my concern? Is really mine to control or is it something I need to trust someone else with? Do I need to let go? There is a big difference between surrendering control and relinquishing responsibility. Every time the issue clutches you, remember that you have surrendered control. Own the release this can bring.
Build yourself up by doing little things that make you feel good about yourself
We tend to remember the insults and forget nice things people say about us. Write down compliments you have been given and keep them to hand where you can see them – from a boss, friend, teacher, partner, child, a parent – anything that makes you know you are wanted, valued, appreciated or loved.
Take daily pride in your appearance. When you look good, you feel good. What do you need to do each morning to face the world and walk a bit taller?
Come to terms with your current circumstances
All of us have been rejected more than once. All of us have made mistakes. We have been turned down for jobs, lost out in love, said or done things we shouldn’t have, or just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s important to spend time processing and forgiving so you don’t remain frozen, stuck or become bitter. James R Sherman wrote the quote below in his book How to Survive Rejection. It’s relevant not just when facing rejection but about any circumstance, you are struggling to come to terms with.“First of all, you have to accept the fact that your rejection is over and done with. There’s nothing you can do now to change what has already happened. If you spend time worrying about it, you’ll lose sight of the present and stumble into a cloudy future. You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending.”
How true is true? I’m not talking about fake news here or the white lie that my bum doesn’t look big in a tight yellow stripy pair of hot pants. I am talking about how truthful we are with ourselves. More often than not we filter, cloud or skew facts—anything to convince ourselves that our lack of progress is Not Our Fault. The problem is, those untruths stop us achieving our goals. Here are three common self-defeating lies to look out for:
Blaming external obstacles
Something is stopping us from succeeding. A friend wanted to train for a 5K run, but said she couldn’t start until after Easter because winter was on its way. ‘Winter’ was the an excuse that has stopped her achieving her goal. The truth is many people, both happily and successfully, train during the colder months.
Blaming those around us
We can’t achieve our goals because of others. Take diet and weight loss. ”Your dinner guests won’t mind if you serve them tasty low fat meals. No one will judge you if you don’t join them in desert when you’re out with friends. You can’t blame others when you regularly choose the unhealthy option.
Blaming those in authority
The plumber who does shoddy work and leaves a mess behind can’t blame the Inland Revenue for his meagre bank balance. Bad word of mouth is stopping him from getting a regular work, and the way he asks his customers for cash payments so he can “hide it from the tax man” risks making him seem even more untrustworthy to the few clients he does have.
If there are areas in your life in which you feel stuck or don’t seem to be having any success perhaps it is because you are not being fully truthful with yourself. Having an accredited coach to look objectively at your situation, help you reassess or reframe can make a tremendous difference.
Have you ever dreamed of a career change? Something that makes you come alive and gets your senses tingling as you imagine what living your dream life could be like? Have you ever tried to make it happen?
On this topic alone, in the past few months I have worked with a teacher, corporate marketing director, teaching assistant, support worker, online shop manager, business owner, electrician, communications director, socialite, charity fundraiser, stenographer, project manager, physiotherapist, finance director, office manager, finance assistant, vicar and a journalist. To date, nearly all have discovered a new direction and out of these, 80% are currently in career transition. A few examples; the project manager is training to become an art therapist, the finance assistant is becoming a gardener and the office manager is setting up her own online business.
Some of the above are in life stages where a drastic change is possible and permissible, yet this isn’t the norm. If you think you are boxed in but still crave a change then please don’t give up hope. It is perfectly doable to find a new position in which you will be happy.
Option 1 – Seek anew role in the same organisation but find one that fits your strengths and motivations.
For example, the physiotherapist, mentioned above, sought a promotion within the same hospital and now performs tasks much more suited to his strengths. He is happy.
Option 2 – Seek a new role in a new organisation, one that fits your strengths and motivations and in which the organisational culture and values are a good fit.
For example, the year 6 teacher I worked with went to a different school and took a job as the SENCO lead (supporting children who have learning difficulties such as dyslexia). She is happy.
Option 3 – Stay in your existing organisation and in the same role, but seek development opportunities.
For example, the journalist completed a digital journalism course and uses the skills both in her current role and organisation as well as on a freelance basis. She is happy.
Option 4 – Go to a new organisation, doing the same role, where you have a better personality fit.
For example, the project manager accepted a role in a much smaller organisation where he gained increased autonomy and the ability to work on an international scale. He is happy.
Don’t look back and regret. Take action today and speak to an accredited coach about your career options.
You’re back at work after a two-week break. Your boss expects you to be fully rested and raring to go. Instead, you’re exhausted and empty. Sound familiar? Far too many people will return to work after the summer unfit for work. There are many reasons why.
Perhaps you’re at a life stage when going on holiday just means looking after the kids or perhaps an elderly relative in a different location. This can be more stressful and expensive than being at home because you have to work harder in an unfamiliar setting. Perhaps you’re of an age where holiday equals party, party, party – hardly restful. Maybe time away from work is filled with a major project: a stressful house move or renovation. Worst of all is when people fill their holiday time with mundane ‘stuff’: chores, DIY, paperwork; none of which refreshes.
It’s hardly surprising that the thought of taking up where you left off at work on already depleted energy levels can leave you feeling cross, angry or depressed. So what do you need to do to recharge?
Benefitting from a quick fix
Both physical and mental wellbeing is often linked to one thing: getting enough sleep. Sleep is vitally important for your emotional and physical well-being. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to improve the amount or quality of my sleep on a regular basis? Even if your holiday hasn’t been restful, you can ‘treat’ yourself to some early nights and weekend lie-ins. Go on, you deserve it!
Seeing the big picture
To increase energy levels requires taking a birds’ eye view of your life as a whole. What aspects of your day-to-day activities are draining or boosting your energy? What do you need to alter? To cut out? To do more of? Sometimes you can tinker around the edges, other times it requires drastic change.
Filling your bucket
Author Rick Warren talks about energy levels being like water in a bucket. When your bucket is full and you are energised, you are creative, perform well and feel happy. When your bucket is empty you are tired, irritable and prone to making mistakes.
No-one else will fill your bucket for you, it is your responsibility to fill it and maintain the energy levels needed. No matter what season of life you are in, there will always be activities, people or scenarios that either energise or drain you. So ask yourself:
How full is your bucket at the moment?
What fills your bucket i.e what energises you?
What drains you?
What do you need to start doing or stop doing to ensure your bucket stays full?
Don’t spend your life feeling tired and irritable. Take action today to make sure you have the energy levels you need.
If you’re unsure where to start, speak to an accredited coach who can work with you to find out what you need to do to balance work, rest and play.
Oh…and don’t forget to book your next (relaxing) holiday! It’s always great to have something to look forward to.
Excited, terrified, eager, agitated, motivated and fraught, I was in turmoil as I drove to my sixth form college for the last time. It was results day.
I had been very surprised at my predicted grades, higher than expected. A-levels were hard. But my tenacity had paid off and I was able to apply to study Broadcasting at universities well regarded by the media industry. I was following my dream of becoming a radio producer.
Shrieks of happiness surrounded me as I tore open my results envelope. I had dropped a grade in French. Despite getting a B and two C’s, my first choice university didn’t accept me. I felt a complete failure.
During results season, the lives of millions of young people will change. For some it will be full steam ahead. For others, dreams will be turned insight out. Wherever you find yourself, don’t panic. As JK Rowling said, “Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”
If your results are not what you expected, follow these steps:
Allow yourself time to process your emotions. It’s OK to cry.
Find people who will be supportive – a relative, friend, teacher, youth leader or coach.
Actively choose to embrace the change and move forward in a positive manner. Taking a birds’ eye perspective of your whole life, the solution may be better than the door that has just closed.
Remind yourself of what you want to achieve. If you don’t know, then the change in circumstances could be a blessing in disguise. Find an accredited youth coach or career coach and get professional help to decide on the right path for you. It’s important to not waste time and money on a wrong fit choice of gap year, job, course or apprenticeship.
Take control. Get an action plan in place. Make a list of your options, who you need to speak to and what you need to find out? Put a date next to each one so you know when it needs to be done by.
Find someone to hold you accountable.
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar (motivational speaker)
How did my story end? My second choice university was Falmouth College of Arts. As soon as I arrived I knew that dropping a grade was the best thing that could have happened to me. My degree was far easier than my A-levels because the course was a practical, assessment-based one and something I loved – I spent my days making radio and TV. Three years of fun ended in a degree, 2.1 (Hons), and a radio producer job at the BBC.
Take action in your lowest moment to turn your perceived failure into a success.
Shoulders hunched, face drawn, sighing deeply. My client didn’t need to tell me how anxious he was about moving jobs and moving house, it was communicated by every fibre of his being.
At first he had been excited, but now his thoughts and questions were spiralling out of control keeping him awake at night. Anticipation about stepping into a fun new adventure had quickly become anxiety and stress prompted by imagined terrors lurking in his unknown future.
A lot of people become frozen in the void like this, between the now and not yet. Fear can come from a previous bad experience or having to leave what you know behind. More often than not though it comes from not knowing what to expect, from a lack of information or preparation.
There is one very simple, easy way to deal with the unknown and replace anxiety with confidence and peace. Take action in the unknown to make the unknown known.
Start off by asking yourself what is it that you are actually worried about? It may not be what you think.
Make a list of all of your concerns, both big and small.
Starting at the top, ask yourself which of these is bothering me most?
When you have identified it, ask yourself; what action(s) do I need to take to alleviate this concern? Repeat the process with your next greatest concern.
Now start taking action for each concern and give yourself actual dates and deadlines.
When you have taken some of the action needed, stop and reflect on how you feel. Do you feel more confident, in control and peaceful? If the answer is no, what is missing? What is it about the unknown that is still causing you concern? What can you do about it?
Keep repeating the process until you feel confident and have all the information you need or are fully prepared so the unknown is now known.
Don’t be stuck in the void feeling afraid and helpless. Even achieving the smallest tasks, finding out small bits of information and making basic decisions about your future can help you feel in control again.
Decide to take action in the unknown to make the unknown known.
It could have felt weird. Five women sat around a table, eating a delicious home cooked meal of sausages, mash, and ratatouille, but not talking. Not because of subservience, an argument or having nothing in common, but because of choice. The women were all respected in their own fields, successful and strong and had chosen to come on a silent retreat for women in leadership. Each was either facing a big decision, life change or needed space to think about the past and future, and had opted to fully switch off from the world to be able to gain clarity, focus, and renewal.
Silent retreats are nothing new, they have been happening for centuries, yet in the digital age where it gets harder and harder to switch off, they appear to be an up and coming trend. As Albert Camus wrote in The Minotaur…” In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion; in order to serve men better; one has to hold them at a distance for a time.”
It takes courage and confidence to choose to be silent in the company of strangers. Never having led a silent retreat before, I didn’t know what to expect and I am aware it isn’t to everyone’s taste. A whole day stretching before you can feel daunting with no plans. Yet, there is structure. Each day offers three delicious meals, a 1-1 coaching session and begins and ends with an optional short time of prayer. As well as walking through the East Sussex countryside, retreat guests chose to curl up with a book, sit by the fire, create in the art room or nap in the summerhouse!
Personally, I found the silence to be powerful, uplifting, beautiful, surprising and rewarding. It is amazing what you can find, hear and see when you stop and retreat. Walking through the bluebell and wild garlic woods that surround the retreat centre, the stunning white, purple and green colours of nature dazzle your eyes; and the cacophony of birdsong is so constant that you begin to distinguish the different voices. With no-where to rush to, I stopped on a bench by a pond. Whilst sitting still, two grass snakes, adult, and child, poked out of the reeds, dived down then sat silently on the surface, watching a large dragonfly as it skimmed the water. I wasn’t expecting that! What moments of unexpected wonder, have I missed because of mental distraction or busyness?
Over the three day period, I was astonished at the change in demeanor of the ladies. On arrival, faces looked stressed, peaky, tired and interestingly it felt as if bodies were groaning in desperation for the solitude to start – like a car letting you know when it needs to change gear. As the time unfolded, having had the opportunity to reflect and reframe, each person departed glowing, feeling more confident, refreshed and renewed. During the final meal together each brightly vowed to come again with one person saying ‘it hit just the right spot, thank you’.
Going back to Albert Camus, the next line of his essay says, “But where can one find the solitude necessary to vigor, the deep breath in which the mind collects itself and courage gauges its strength?” If you are a woman, I can answer that. The next Silent Retreat for Women in Leadership retreat is being held 30th April-3rd May 2019. Contact Penhurst Retreat Centre to book directly. For more photos of the location, click on the Jenny Butter led retreats page.